Wednesday, December 31, 2008

McEnroe RIP

Colin McEnroe – radio talk show host, columnist, former religious reporter for the Hartford Courant, and a member of the illuminati – is now off the air, and there are grumblings right and left.

A fan writes in the Courant:

"I am inexpressibly SHATTERED by the unforeseen and unforgivable loss of Colin. What is wrong with those MORONS at WTIC? Can they not recognize the sublime genius and JOY that is Colin? Please, oh please, BARRAGE them with "Bring Back Colin" missives to: 10 Executive Drive, Farmington, CT 06032.
Talent of his caliber does NOT come along very often in one lifetime, and I deplore and despair loosing this tremendously precious human being.
Say it ain't so...SCREAM it ain't so…God Help Us...And GOOD RIDDANCE to STUPID, BORING, and TRAGICALLY MYOPIC WTIC."


The contras were legion, brief, brutal and short.

But Colin’s talents cannot be denied. He has flair with the language and a ready wit. And then, of course, there is his saving friendship with Bill Curry, Connecticut’s version of Adlai Stevenson.

The Colin McEnroe show was better than most liberal offerings and lasted longer than most. Why people make the decisions they do in talk radio and television are often inscrutable, but McEnroe’s leave-taking probably had something to do with ratings, the bane of artists everywhere.

The grand-daddy of talk show hosts is, of course, Rush Limbaugh, who established the talk show template decades ago. Everyone on the left who has attempted to follow that template has suffered the fate of McEnroe, who was best when he was not talking directly about religion of politics, all of which suggests that liberals, to be successful in talk-show land, should create their own templates. The Limbaugh template succeeded, in part, because it was a refreshing change from the same old, same old liberal commentary one finds in the now much despised Main Stream Media.

What a successful liberal radio talk show template would look like is anybody’s guess. It could not be an echo chamber of the incoming liberal Obama administration. The president elect has his own abundant cheering section, and talk show banter is most effective when it is not upholding the current regime.

When he was not sitting across the phone with a conservative or libertarian, McEnroe was a fine interviewer. He was not able to handle his opposite numbers with the flair of, say, a Bill Buckley, perhaps the best interviewer since Socrates. In the age of angry bloggers and half mad radio talk show hosts, perhaps the Buckley template is something of an artifact.

In any case, it is to be hoped that McEnroe does not deflate altogether. There is a place for such, somewhere, in Media Land.

4 comments:

DirtyJobsGuy said...

Colin and other liberal talk hosts problem seems to be that they cannot go off the reservation. Hartford under Eddie Perez is a distaster which should be prime fodder for talk radio. It's a one-party game so you would not be abandoning the Dems if you were critical of Perez. But the left (and the Courant) are so stuck on ethnic group politics they can't bring themselves to anything more than the mildest rebuke.

This also applies to such great talk radio staples as griping about taxes and fees. Liberals cannot under any circumstances oppose these. Good lord, the Courant thought the NY iPod tax was a good idea.

Don Pesci said...

You're right. Michele Jacklin, commentator in chief for the Courant before she hitched up with the Malloy campaign, used to sat, "Connecticut does not have a spending problem; it has a revenue problem. That pretty much sums up thinking both at that paper and in the Democrat controlled legislature. It’s a mind set that only an ocean of red ink may be able to wash away. And your mention of the tax on Ipods is a reminder that it is still with us. In South Carolina, the governor is studying ways to eliminate property taxes and replace them with consumption taxes; so if things get too bad, we can always move there. That’s where Connecticut workers who have been thrown out of the plane by sometimes good sometimes bad companies go to repair their spirits. Don’t think Ol’Colin has ever talked top any Connecticut expatriate in the Carolinas.

James Bailey Brislin said...

Good lord! Was McEnroe actually a religion correspondent… or are you being facetious? What qualifications does Colin McEnroe have to cover religion?

If so, I think it highlights one of the major problems in contemporary reporting… which is that far too many reporters have no subject-matter-expertise whatsoever in the subjects that they cover.

In college, I was the religion correspondent for The Tower (www.cuatower.com), our campus newspaper. At the time, I was appalled by the rank ignorance of some reporters in the secular press that I'd rub elbows with. Julia Duin of The Washington Times was the only one who really had a clue what was really going on.

Don Pesci said...

James,

I agree pretty much with everything you’ve said.

McEnroe mentioned several times during his late radio show that he had been the religion correspondent for the Hartford Courant. Most papers have given up reporting on religion – unless, of course, a Catholic priest molests an alter boy, and then the story is given first page treatment. I miss solid religious sections in newspapers, but I’m probably in the minority.

McEnroe’s religious leanings, if he has any at all, lean towards Unitarianism, a catch-all faith that is difficult to distinguish from, say, Democratic progressivism. He likes Buddhism and deplores the pope as often as possible. His friend Bill Curry is more likely to lift religious sentiments from Buddha than from Meister Eckhardt or St. John of the Cross, but we must remember that these people – the Brights; McEnroe is also a member in good standing of the Illuminati – are really what Jacques Maritain used to call “practical atheists.” Personally, I prefer my atheism straight. Christopher Hitchens, profoundly wrong on the matter of religion, is more to my taste than these halfbreeds.

Most Courant reporters who write about religion – i.e. Susan Cambell, once a fundamentalist Christian – get their religion, if they get it at all, from the Hartford Seminary, which is a little bit like deducing Shakespeare from Hamlet. But we’ve all grown wearily use to this nonsense.

I say, newspapers would sell if G.K. Chesterton or Hillare Belloc were writing the religious sections. But what do I know?